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Castro leads Lindsay to D-IV title game

No. 1 Cardinals outlast Exeter 63-48


12:00 AM, Feb. 28, 2013 EST

Lindsay's Christina Castro shoots against Exeter in a Central Section Division IV semifinal game on Tuesday in Lindsay. / Ron Holman

LINDSAY — 

The Lindsay girls basketball team left Selland Arena with a bad taste in its mouth during the 2011-12 season.

The Cardinals were hoping to capture a Central Section Division IV title, but were defeated by San Joaquin Memorial 58-50.

Ever since that game, Lindsay's Christina Castro made it a personal goal to get her team back to Selland Arena.

Castro accomplished that goal by scoring a game-high 28 points as the No. 1-seeded Cardinals defeated No. 4 Exeter 63-48 in the Central Section Division IV semifinals on Tuesday night in Lindsay.

"This is what we have been working for this whole time," Castro said. "We came up short last year. This is what our goal was. This means a lot."

Castro did just about everything for Lindsay in the first half, scoring 20 of the team's 28 points.

She received help in the second half from Alexis Gutierrez.

The junior wing scored nine straight Lindsay to points to close out the third quarter and to open the fourth quarter to give the Cardinals some breathing room.

Her first 3-pointer of the game gave the Cardinals a 43-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter. After an Exeter basket made it 43-40, Guttierez hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Castro made a lay-in to give the Cardinals a 51-40 lead with 5 minutes, 36 seconds left in the game.

"In the third quarter, we were a little shaken up," Castro said. "We had to calm down and let our nerves go away and just play our game. We knew if we played our game, we'd come out and be victorious."

Exeter gave Lindsay all it could handle during the first three quarters of the game. Even though the Cardinals defeated the Monarchs by 30 points during the regular season, Lindsay coach Frankie Arguelles knew it would not be easy the second time around.

"That's what we expected," Arguelles said of Exeter giving Lindsay all it could handle. "I told the girls earlier in the season that this is who we're going to see in the playoffs. [Coach] Gary [Hylton] has them going in the right direction and they gave us a run for our money."

Exeter was led by Jacque Hutcheson with 13 points, Amber Atkinson added nine points and Valerie Vargas chipped in with seven points.

Other than Castro's dominant all-around performance, another major difference in the game was Lindsay's outside shooting. The Cardinals made eight 3-pointers, while the Monarchs managed to make just one.

Arguelles called it a complete-team effort.

"Christina did what is expected of her," he said. "She always gives 100 percent. Destiny Garcia is big on the defensive side, but the one that sparked us was Alexis Gutierrez, who hit those 3-pointers and got us going and killed Exeter's momentum. Everybody contributed in their way tonight and that's what we needed."

The Cardinals accomplished their first goal of reaching Selland Arena and the Division IV championship game.

Their next goal is to bring the championship hardware back to Lindsay.

The Cardinals will have to do it against No. 2 Mendota, which defeated No. 3 Taft to reach the championship game.

The game will be at 10 a.m. Saturday.

With Castro and company having experienced playing at Selland Arena last season, the Cardinals feel they are ready for the moment the second time around.

"I feel good about how we're playing," Castro said. "We're going on all cylinders right now."

 

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